LOS ANGELES — Metropolitan Water District of Southern California plans to appeal an adverse ruling in a case which the San Diego County Water Authority claims it was overcharged for water by the wholesale water provider.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow's ruled in his final decision Friday that SDCWA is entitled to $188.2 million plus interest for overages on water rates charged by the water wholesaler from 2011 to 2014.

Krakow's final decision issued Friday affirms the judge's tentative ruling handed down July 15.

"We aren't surprised by the decision the judge made given the tentative ruling last month and ruling in the earlier phase of trial," said Bob Muir, an MWD spokesman.

As for likely success on appeal, Muir said, "we have challenged San Diego before and won out — and expect to be successful when we appeal these decisions."

The water authority sued MWD in 2010 and again in 2012 alleging the water wholesaler had imposed illegal rates not based on the cost of providing the services.

"After five years in court, we have prevailed on the two main points of our lawsuit - that MWD has systematically overcharged the San Diego region's ratepayers while shorting our rights to MWD water," said Mark Weston, chair of the water authority's board of directors.

SCDWA will continue to need support from civic and business groups as it fights MWD's expected appeals, Weston said.

In April 2014, Judge Karnow ruled that MWD's 2011-2014 rates violated California statutes and common law that require public water agencies to limit the rates they charge to the costs of providing their services.

In Friday's ruling, Karnow also found that MWD's statutory water rights formula has improperly excluded payments by the water authority for transporting the water authority's Colorado River water supplies that are independent of water supplied by MWD.

The water authority's attorneys, Keker & Van Nest of San Francisco and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, had argued that MWD had loaded unrelated costs onto the rate it charges for transporting water. And that it was using the overcharges to SDCWA to subsidize rates it charges the other 25 member agencies.

San Diego officials claim the ruling means that a correct assessment of SDCWA's preferential water rights gives the water authority access to tens of thousands of acre-feet of water per year, a significant increase in supply.

 

 

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